Coast housing crisis – what can we do?

Coast housing and rental crisis - what can we do?Affordable housing is an issue, but right now, the priority is availability of any permanent rentals for families and employees relocating to the Cooloola Coast. The Community News speaks to two local real estate experts, Andrew Hawkins from Rainbow Beach Realty and Dee White from Cooloola Coast Realty, about housing on our coast, the impacts, trends and possible strategies.

How long has housing been a problem on the Cooloola Coast?  

Andrew Hawkins: The permanent rental market had tightened up significantly. Two years back, pre-Covid, we had close to zero vacancy rate.

After the ‘Covid boom’ demand has spiked even further, with zero vacant properties and no more coming online, which meant a massive unfulfilled demand for families to live in Rainbow Beach.

It is a ‘Catch 22’ of the strong market and local economy where we have increased buyers and holiday makers at the detriment to local tenants.

Dee White: Since Covid-19 travel restrictions began back in March 2020 – we have only had 1-2 properties available. This number dropped to zero from around September to December.

We would see at least 4-5 properties available to rent per month under ‘normal’ circumstances. This is typically due to the transient nature of some of the permanent population who may pick up work over the summer period and sign a six-month lease but then move on/out of town/or in with someone else around March, when there is generally less work or hours offered.

How long is the wait for a permanent rental?

Andrew Hawkins: It would be a two-year waiting list to find a rental. Now I don’t even know – we never get new rentals.

Dee White: At the moment, we only have one vacant permanent rental property in Rainbow Beach and one in Tin Can Bay. Both of these have multiple applications in and will be leased by the first week of March.

We currently have approximately 20 individuals/family groups looking for a permanent rental in Rainbow Beach.

Some of these are people looking to move to town for work or semi/retirement and others are looking to move into a bigger or smaller home than the current arrangements. Approximate wait time for a house would be around three months at present.

Some holiday rentals may convert to permanent to meet the current demand, however, it depends what the property owner’s preference is.

They may prefer to keep their property as a short-term rental as it may provide a better return on their investment or give them the flexibility to use the property themselves from time to time.

What is the impact on local business?

Andrew Hawkins: Anecdotally, if you talk to many local businesses – if they have a job vacancy the first question isn’t about the qualifications, it is ‘do you live in Rainbow Beach?’.

Dee White: Some businesses are having all sorts of dramas trying to get staff – and then finding someone suitable, but not being able to find them anywhere to live.

What can we do? 

Andrew Hawkins: There is no single answer – we are seeing it around Australia in every little beachside and rural town. People are bringing forward lifestyle decisions, saying: “Life is too short – let’s move to Rainbow Beach”.

Over the past 6 to 9 months, we have seen a very large increase in the younger families buying in Rainbow Beach, a good portion relocating here permanently, because they can work remotely.

I’m hoping owners of houses that are left vacant most of the year, will consider taking on tenants, so we can use the stock already here in Rainbow Beach.

Dee White: Release more freehold land and build government housing?

Not sure… Ultimately, I can see the demand outstripping supply for some time yet and although it is wonderful having loads of holiday makers in town that want to eat out, drink coffee, buy souvenirs and clothes, get massages and haircuts, learn to surf and all that stuff – the people that provide all those services need to live somewhere in order to make it all happen.

If you have a solution, or story on your struggle to find a home to rent on the Cooloola Coast please email: or give us a call on 0407 660198.

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